Striking Out At Lunge Whip Help!
Ever since I got my gelding Licorice he's always been afraid of the lunge whip, making it a battle to get him to lunge. After about a year of working with him I've been able to get out on a circle. But every time I pick up the whip he immediately starts off at a fast trot and won't stop when asked. When I was lunging him tonight he kept stopping and turning to go the other way. I always loop the lunge line through the bit and over her his head. When I get him stopped to make him go the other way he'll back up, so I'll swing the rope out behind him to make him go forwards, but he has started to swing around and rear up, striking with his hooves at the whip. I've only ever touched him with the whip once, last summer, when he donkey kicked at him. What can I do to make him stop striking out?
Can you cue him using the end of the longe line instead of the whip if he that afraid of it? I usually just keep about 3' free and twirl it or flick it at him when I want a transition.
Make a kissing sound first to indicate he's to move his feet. Then try just extending your arm as tho it is the whip. Even flop your hand up and down to help him figure out what you want. Even if he moves forward only half a step immediately lower your arm then ask again with the kiss first then the arm. Don't move in so close that you could get kicked. The whip represents too much pressure to him. If your arm doesn't work try a shorter dressage whip or riding crop.
I had a similar problem with my horse. He was really worried about the lunge whip. All I had to do was pick it up and he would back up, eyes wide and snorting. I worked on desensitizing him. I spent three weeks clicker training him to be near the whip. Then I would take the whip and started to rub and tap around him and on him lightly with the whip. I also just flipped it around him. He improved. I had to separate the whip from lunging. I could not get anything done on the lunge line until he had figured out that the whip was not worth being frightened of.
The biggest improvement when was when I tried lunging him without the whip. The first time I went to lunge my boy sans whip he was perfect. He would do his transitions well without the whip. He was really more relaxed without it. I learned that he responds to voice commands on the lunge. I did not know this because he was so worried about the whip that he would not listen. He was just thinking "OMG run for your LIVES its the WHIP!".
You don't necessarily need a lunge whip to lunge. Most of the slower horses I lunge, need it as "leg", but some only need a voice command.
I like to say that a lunge whip is like riding with spurs, some lazy horses need it but not all.
Using the end of the lunge line and twirling it around or throwing it out and reeling it back in is like a whip, about all the motion most horses need.
Using your arm or voice is usually for horses that don't need much forward motion to get them to go faster.
I'd try to use then end of the lunge line and twirl that around before you decide that you have to use the lunge whip.
Sounds like a good thing to do would be to desentisitize him to the lunge whip (stick and string). I like Clinton Anderson's method for this. Watch this video and it will explain it MUCH better than I ever could. Once he is no longer frightened of it then it will be easier to get him to react positivley to it on the lunge line which is the whole point to begin with. If you just give up and don't use it, you haven't fixed the problem and he hasn't learned anything.
Thanks for the help!
I think you are only pecking at him -- you know -- nagging and threatening him but with no intention of actually making him respond correctly.
The worst behavior you accept is the very best behavior or response you have any right to expect.
You have only threatened, nagged and pecked and he is going to get more and more disrespectful and very possibly, aggressive.
Do not bother to wave a whip at a horse unless you intend to hit him hard enough to get the proper response if he just blows you off. The instant he responds (in this case by moving briskly forward) you lower the whip and take pressure off as long as he continues to go forward until you ask him to stop.
I have had to deal with quite a few horses that had learned to NOT obey a handler instead of responding correctly. It takes a lot more pressure once one has gotten spoiled this way.
It is important to not ask for one to go too long or too fast in the beginning. Just make sure YOU determine the stopping point. You may have to get after him pretty hard since you have taught him that he does not have to do the right thing at all.
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